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Distell names new premium wine company

Published:  15 January, 2019

South African juggernaut Distell has officially announced the launch of its new premium wine division which will go by the name Libertas Vineyards and Estates.

In November, Harpers exclusively revealed that plans were underway for a stand-alone company to break away from Distell and take ownership of all its premium wine brands, with hero label Nederburg at the forefront.

Today, Libertas’ managing director Kay Nash called the move out of Distell and the formation of an independent board of directors a “mammoth task” which will be tackled in phases.

“We are making bold decisions regarding how we operate and compete and Distell with their strong wine DNA, are championing the need for a new approach. There is recognition that the category is challenging and inherently complex and requires a specialist focus, different culture and entrepreneurial approach,” she said.

The company marks a significant shift from Distell’s previous approach where premium wines were managed as a division within the company’s broader portfolio.

Libertas will oversee a broad church of brands, including Alto, Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, Plaisir de Merle, Pongrácz, Fleur du Cap and Allesverloren and as well as heritage assets Chateau Libertas, Zonnebloem and the Tabernacle.

The new business will also revitalise the Oude Libertas site which will be operate as the company’s new chosen home in Stellenbosch.

First priority in the short-term, Nash said, is to “critically review” the large portfolio of “8 brands and 40 sub-sub-brands operating in 88 markets globally across 22 grape varietals, and spanning 384 SKU’s”.

“We also understand the critical importance of our farms and partners…and we want to actively participate in developing solutions and the up-skilling of our industry so we can build a sustainably successful premium wine industry,” she said.

Nederberg and Distell have been at the forefront of lifting the South Africa wine category from its bulk reputation over the past ten years.

By bringing the premium brands under the Libertas umbrella, the moves echoes what Distell did with Cape Legends, which was established in 2004, and dismantled four years ago.

“With Nederburg in our portfolio as well as ownership of all our assets, we can bring back the focus and build an entrepreneurial culture so critical to success in the category,” Nash concluded.